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Publisher's Summary

Stolen artifacts, a missing anthropologist, and a pesky amateur sleuth. 

Art-history student Zelda Richardson is working at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam on an exhibition of bis poles from the Asmat region of Papua - the same area where a famous American anthropologist disappeared in 1962. When his journal is found inside one of the bis poles, Zelda is tasked with finding out more about the man's last days and his connection to these ritual objects.  

Zelda is pulled into a world of shady anthropologists, headhunters, missionaries, art collectors, and smugglers - where the only certainty is that sins of the past are never fully erased.  

Join Zelda as she grapples with the anthropologist's mysterious disappearance 50 years earlier and a present-day murderer who will do anything to prevent her from discovering the truth.  

All four mysteries in the Adventures of Zelda Richardson series are stand-alone novels, and they can be listened to in any order.

©2018 Jennifer S. Alderson (P)2018 Jennifer S. Alderson

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If you like Archeology n mystery. listen to this.

I received this book free from Eblast, the author, and publisher. this is my unbiased opinion. I enjoyed the book. I really can't think of too many criticisms, maybe a bit slow. Definently worth your time.

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Interesting story!

I enjoyed listening to this book. At times, I found the story intense, fascinating and because of the greed and disregard for the indigenous people and their culture, sad. I've always had an interest in Anthropology and Archaeology so I easily got into this story and would recommend it to anyone who likes this kind of thing. This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

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Absolutely Outstanding!

Jennifer S. Alderson proves to us all in her latest, Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery: Adventures of Zelda Richardson, Book 3, what I had suspected all along - she is the author to keep an eye on! No joke...she IS the one your mama warned you about! Alderson is on fire, and I have a feeling, this is just the beginning. After reading and listening to another of her books, The Lover's Portrait: An Art Mystery, I immediately recognized that her writing abilities greatly exceeded other authors of the same genre. Being that it was the first book I ever read by Alderson, I had nothing to compare it to. So, when I saw a couple days ago that Rituals of the Dead was released on audio, I was overjoyed and couldn't wait to give it a listen! I can say with complete confidence that I was correct - Jennifer S. Alderson is an amazingly talented author! Taking a look at the charts on Amazon, I see that I am definitely not the only one who feels this way. Rituals of the Dead is a top seller in 3 separate categories right now, as I type this review, and one of them has the Kindle version teetering between the #1 and #2 spot for Literature and Fiction, focusing in on Foreign Language Fiction. So, Ms. Alderson, just in case you read these reviews, I want to say congratulations! :-)

Chelsea Stephens' performance as narrator was excellent! She did a phenomenal job bringing the characters to life as she flawlessly switched between the early 1960s and 2017. Her consistency made for easy listening, and her voice was pleasing to the ear. I feel she made my overall experience that much more enjoyable and well worth the credit! This is my first time hearing Chelsea Stephens narrate, and, based on her performance here, I definitely plan to check out more of her work! :-)

Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery: Adventures of Zelda Richardson, Book 3 by Jennifer S. Alderson, narrated by Chelsea Stephens is very deserving of 5/5 stars across the board. Not only will you be kept in suspense and wonder, but you will also stay thoroughly entertained from start to finish. If you love historical fiction, mysteries, and culture, you are definitely going to love this audiobook. It is thought-provoking and very-well researched! In fact, it is so well-researched that I had to check if it was actually fiction. I love audiobooks, so, natually, when I find a good one, I can't help but recommend it to others. I have to also say, if you are looking to read a book, yourself, or if you are deciding on your next group or book club read, this one would be a wonderful choice. It can be read as a stand-alone or as part of a series. The content allows for a variety of thoughts and opinions on situations that are real and relevant, which provides wide opportunity for discussion. The characters are relatable and likable, especially Zelda, and it is highly enjoyable! I cannot wait for the next audiobook to be released!

Thank you for reading my review. I hope it was helpful. :-)

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A Highly Powerful Anthropological Mystery

In <strong>Rituals of the Dead</strong> by Jennifer S. Alderson, Zelda Richardson is doing an internship at the Tropenmuseum in Netherlands, where researchers have discovered bones and other artifacts sent to Netherlands by anthropologists from the Asmat region of Papua 50 years earlier. As the researchers open the last two boxes at a public press conference, they pull out two bis poles, Asmat versions of Native American totem poles. But in one of the boxes, they discover the journal from Nick Mayfield, the American son of a millionaire mogul who disappeared during an expedition 50 years earlier. Zelda is given the tiresome chore of photographing the delicate book and is relieved to have finished a day before her deadline. But then the department photographer finds that she can't log into the computer system or use the phones. Janna sends Zelda to the IT department, where Zelda finds all the employees frantically trying to fight off a cyber attack that has infiltrated their entire system. When she returns to the photography department, Zelda is shocked to discover Janna brutally murdered, with the journal and all her equipment stolen.

The book switches back and forth between the activities of Nick in 1962 Papua and those of Zelda in 2017 Netherlands. This proves to be an effective narrative technique, as we see retrospectives of Nick from both his lifetime and through Zelda's eyes as she researches his life amid her own work preparing for the exhibition into bis poles. This method of narrative works all the more compellingly to drawn us more deeply into the mystery.

The plot of this book gripped me and kept me from pausing the recording. I thoroughly loved Alderson's previous book, <em>The Lover's Portrait</em>, but the premise of <strong>Rituals of the Dead</strong> made me unsure if it would be too creepy for me. However, I need not have feared. Yes, there are a couple descriptions of bones that are not wholly pleasant, but they are so crucial to the plot that I didn't mind much, and the scenes are treated tastefully.

This book exposes the dark underbelly of the field of anthropology, especially the practices used in the earliest days. Westerners like Nick and other anthropologists and missionaries would offer trades of axes or tobacco for ritual items deemed sacred to the native Asmats. They took advantage of the native people in using unscrupulous means of gaining their artifacts. Physical anthropologists also collected the bones of natives in order to measure them in the now-debunked belief that measurements of bones, in particular those of skulls, reveal facts about the mental capacities of people. This method of research held a purpose of proving Western superiority. In doing so, they did not treat the bones that they often stole with the respect and care that such bones deserved. This makes us wonder what beliefs and research practices we hold and use today may seem barbaric and ridiculous to scholars 50 years from now.

Chelsea Stephens performs the audio edition of <strong>Rituals of the Dead</strong>. Unlike most cozy mysteries, this book contains mostly narrative and little dialogue. Thus, the performance requires a different approach to narrating the book. Instead of being dramatic, the performance uses a more evenhanded reading, leaving the text to speak for itself. I felt this was a smart decision, making the book seem all the more effective.

I was very pleasantly surprised by <strong>Rituals of the Dead</strong>. As a student of anthropology, I heard about some of the unethical and unscientific practices of certain early pioneers in the field, but this book brought these practices to life in a powerful way. This book was so compelling that I don't think I could have put it down even if I wanted. I heartily endorse this book and give it five stars.

<strong>Disclaimer:</strong> I received this book for free from the author, but that in no way affected the content of my review.

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  • Jan M
  • 08-16-18

Great Story, Great Narration!

I was really impressed by Jennifer S Alderson with this book. Archeology has always intrigued me, and this book pulled me in from the very beginning. I haven't thought much of rituals of the dead from other countries before listening to this book. I am not naive in believing that shady things do not happen when dealing with antiques and art from other places. This book really brought to light how some things could have been done. The author was brilliantly clever in solving this case, and had unexpected twists. The performance by Chelsea Stephens was great. I really thought she did great with the suspense and proper emotions.